Consider the amount of time you spend sitting each day. From your commute to your desk to the hours you spend relaxing on the couch before calling it a night, you spend a lot of time sitting. Even if you manage to squeeze in a morning walk with your dog or an evening trip to Equinox, you’re still spending the majority of the day off your feet.
Standing, however, can improve your health and your productivity, and in this article, we explore how getting out of your chair can help you get more done.
The Risks Associated with Prolonged Sitting
In numerous studies, researchers have identified the link between prolonged sitting and various health conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular problems, depression, dementia, blood clots, and lower back pain.
One study found that those who report over 23 hours of sedentary behavior per week have an almost 65% higher risk of cardiovascular disease mortality compared to those who sit for less than 11 hours per week.
According to Yale Medicine, there is even a correlation between prolonged sitting in adults and an increased risk of early death. In fact, according to a Mayo Clinic article, individuals who sit for more than eight hours per day face a comparable risk of mortality to those who smoke or are obese.
In addition to the many physical health implications of prolonged sitting, sitting also impacts mental health and productivity; notably, sitting impacts executive function, memory, attention, and visuospatial skills.
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5 Ways to Create a More Active Workday
While you probably can’t just stop working to reduce the time you spend at your desk, many doctors and other health professionals have devised practical and effective strategies to get their sedentary patients on their feet. These strategies can help you steer clear of the physical and mental health issues discussed above. If you’re ready to get started on getting active, read on!
1. Move Every 30 Minutes
As the writer notes in the Yale article mentioned above, individuals who rarely sit for more than 30 minutes at a time face the lowest risk of negative health consequences from prolonged sitting. To ensure you don’t sit for extended periods, you can use an app, timer, or a similar kind of technology to provide you with reminders to stand up and take a brief walk approximately every half-hour. In fact, many smartwatches or wearable health trackers have built-in features specifically designed to remind you to take short breaks and move every 30 minutes.
2. Take Walking Meetings
Whether you have a lot of in-person or virtual meetings, walking meetings can be a game-changer for your health.
Invite your coworker to go on a stroll while discussing the day’s challenges. During virtual meetings, put in your AirPods and take a walk around your neighborhood.
While walking meetings aren’t suitable in every context, these meetings can offer you (and your colleagues) a straightforward strategy for getting some steps in while remaining productive with work.
3. Invest in Active Office Equipment
Consider investing in tools such as exercise ball chairs, under-the-desk ellipticals, or standing desks, which can keep you moving while you’re working. If you prefer not to buy new equipment, you can improvise by working from a high counter or using any suitable object to prop your laptop at a standing height.
4. Incorporate Exercises into Your Workday
By doing simple exercises such as squats, lunges, or stretches, you can keep your muscles active and your brain (and decision-making skills) sharp without ever having to change out of your office attire. Schedule in breaks during your workday to ensure you make time for movement.
5. Encourage a Culture of Movement
If you’re in a leadership position, advocate for and foster a culture that promotes movement. You may promote movement through workplace wellness challenges, health-oriented incentives, employee-accessible active office equipment, or even a corporate wellness program.
The Bottom Line
Prolonged sitting can negatively impact your health and productivity, but understanding the risks and implementing practical strategies to keep yourself moving can mitigate these effects and enhance your performance at work.
Remember, every little bit of movement adds up and improves your health and productivity. Implementing the small and manageable changes outlined above into your daily routine can lead to healthy habits that last a lifetime.
Take our health assessment to gain insights into your habits and start your journey towards a healthier, more active workday.